Speakers’ Corner – Animal videos

John had me in tears the other day by showing me an animal video – he is always looking at this stuff on his phone and then sending them to me and moaning when I don’t look at them. But occasionally, I condescend to having a look. (I love the one of the Pug screaming its head off because he’s about to have his nails cut.) Funny. 


The video was not of a dog, not even a boxer, but of a female gorilla, in an enclosure in a zoo, giving birth to her young and ably assisting herself. She is lying on the floor, and as the ‘infant’ (if this word applies to gorillas as it does to chimpanzees) arrives, she reaches for it, scoops it up, and, looking at it intently in the face, kisses it.  I was in pleats.  And through my tears, I hoped that animals would live forever.  And by animals, I mean the wild ones, which only comprise 10% of the world’s animal population today. 

This gorilla mother’s beautiful actions were caught on camera because she lives in a zoo. Still, we can only hope that animals living in the wild will survive the perils of climate change, environmental destruction, the reduction of habitats, and hunting. But thinking of this gorilla, why wouldn’t she kiss her offspring – after all, aren’t they just a few genes away from the genetic makeup of a human?   I’m a believer in all animals having the capacity to experience feelings and sensations – who doesn’t believe that dogs are sentient?  Have you never seen one dreaming?  Have you ever seen a dog being embarrassed?

Growing up, John had a boxer called Jason, and he was the first dog I’ve ever seen looking embarrassed.  It happened with Jason’s excitement at seeing Johnny home from uni, racing around, and tripping up the hall stairs.  He looked back at us, ashamed, saying, ‘I hope you didn’t see that!’

I heard the other day, R4’s Tweet of the Day, on the Ptarmigan, a member of the grouse family whose plumage turns white in snowy conditions, and how it had enthralled a photographer who was climbing in the Cairngorms one winter. The photographer said he spotted what looked like a flying snowball during a gleaming whiteout. It was a confused Ptarmigan wheeling around, and it proceeded to crash land into the snow. After that he said, the bird looked all around and up and down in what he could only be explain as embarrassment. Funny.  I would have loved to have seen that video.